20% Tax on Fizzy Drinks-That’ll do it!

Posted on February 19, 2013

I listened to a phone in on Radio 5 live yesterday that was based around obesity and a price hike or tax on fizzy drinks to deter people from buying them. I am guessing they mean things like Coke and Fanta that are often well stashed with sugar content, but in my mind the suggested 20% increase is like pissing directly into a force 9 westerly. Every year a new crisis blows up about obesity blows up, but every year the (obesity) numbers seem to increase, so there is something we are not learning when it comes to diet or perhaps in some cases we are being hoodwinked?

Just today, I read an article in The Independent suggesting that food companies do not take into account the caloric value of fibre in food with the effect that some high-fibre foods which are sold as low in calories may actually contain up to 25 per cent more calories than the label suggests. Of course, a lot of obesity issues are self-inflicted, but it doesn’t help matters when the same Governments that are advocating better diets are effectively collaborating with food manufacturers to mislead consumers. That’s not really fair is it?

There is obviously a huge (if you excuse the pun) issue here as obesity is costing the NHS around four billion a year and that figure is rising year on year at a meteoric rate. The NHS is buckling under the weight (again excuse the pun) of this crisis already and by 2050, it is estimated that 66 per cent of people will be clinically obese; that is nothing other than obscene. I was always of the opinion that weight was a simplistic issue where you had to burn the calories what you put in and you would be fine, but listening to this doctor on the radio, it runs a lot deeper than because…and get this…many people who appear of normal weight are also getting treated for heart disease and diabetes because of the junk food that appears in every supermarket and every fast food restaurant.

Hideous reading: Estimates of obesity levels in the UK

It’s a difficult call for any Government, whether it is red, blue, or a coalition, as junk food is big business; McDonalds alone employ 90,000 staff in the UK. No matter how good their intentions, a right-on company selling carrot and celery soup is never going to employ that many people. To shut down the junk food business in the UK would be financial suicide, at least in the short term and in any case, contrary to what some of us may think, we live in democracy don’t we? It is up to an individual what they drink, eat or indeed smoke and though some people say that they (obese individuals) shouldn’t be treated by the NHS, you can’t have a nation that is famous for people combusting in the street. If you see someone having a heart attack, you can’t just turn your back and say “Ah fuck him, he looks like he eats too many donuts.”

This crisis will effect our kids, if not directly, indirectly and the only solution is to cut out the Government and manufacture hoodwinking, have diet lessons as part of the state education system and increase sporting activity in schools. One guy on the radio yesterday, said that at the school his kids went to, they did half an hour of physical education a week; I’m sorry, but that is just pathetic. I totally get the financial reasons as to why Governments can’t afford to wage an all out war on fast food companies, but if they don’t start working towards a proper solution, Britain is going to eat itself to a hideous death. Go to Disneyland in Florida and you can see the future with your own eyes, it’s a revolting place.

When all is said and done, an additional 20% on a bottle of fizzy drink is about as useful as entering a one legged man into an arse kicking competition.

1 Reply to "20% Tax on Fizzy Drinks-That'll do it!"

  • H
    February 19, 2013 (7:35 pm)

    I listened to the same show Bob and couldn’t come up with an easy solution. But one thought I had was that if you end up taking up less than your fair share of NHS resources from ‘good’ diet/health choices (eg not smoking, drinking, obesity etc) you would be entitled to some meaningful tax credit/benefit.

    The problem is in changing intransigent behaviour so how about giving something meaningful back to those who live in a way that is less demanding on the taxpayer.

    I’m sure there are a million holes in this argument but I had to get it off my chest!

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